This past week I traveled a lot of ground (literally—to South Carolina, then Chicago, then back to the Washington, DC Metro area) and figuratively (speaking with a variety of people both inside and outside of the nutrition profession. One point became crystal clear by the end of my whirlwind tour—perception is often based upon a limited bit of information. Since I have covered the proceedings associated with the HITECH Act for the past two years, I will try to clarify areas where understandable confusion occurs.
HITECH is an incentive program for “eligible providers” participating in Medicare or Medicaid who adopt and use electronic health records.
It is both a “carrot and a stick” incentive program: those who adopt now are eligible for greater incentives; those who fail to adopt by 2015 will receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement penalties.
While there really is no “drop dead” date for EHR implementation-those who delay switching to digital processes will likely find themselves struggling to communicate with providers—and patients—who process health data electronically.
Dietitians are not eligible for reimbursement under HITECH. However—and a big—HOWEVER—ADA (volunteers, staff, provider champions) has invested in HITECH since its inception in 2009. The infrastructure under development (at warp speed) serves to support care across all transitions; nutrition is included in multiple areas due to the heavy lifting of those participating in standards development, terminology harmonization, transfer protocols—the list is extensive.
As of this week, the ONC signed up 100,000 Primary Care Providers for participation in their Regional Extension Centers. This means that about one third of primary care providers have committed to adoption and use of electronic health records. More details are available on the Health IT Buzz Blog. It is obvious that the “perspective” of low adoption of EHRs is changing. As one leader put it this week—many instances requiring significant change have a faction of the population who champion the “status quo”. In health information technology adoption—no one wants to continue to fill out the same information over and over again—there is no “status quo” push for remaining fragmented and siloed.